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The Sell Of Music

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MusicFreedom presents another method for artists to get their music to fans without an intervening music label.

Digital downloading of music has become a normal part of the online experience for many computer users. While legal download services have arisen and address the requirements of music labels, other illicit file-sharing services flourish. Neither of those options serves the artist well.

The Sell Of Music

Digital music services that provide downloads for purchase, like iTunes or Napster, forward most of the price per song to the music label. For Apple, that’s at least 70 cents per song to the independent labels, and probably a bit more to the major powers like Sony BMG.

It’s probably safe to say the big labels aren’t passing much of that 70 cents along to artists. The labels incur costs when developing new talent, and very few acts go on to be a major success. They want to recoup their investments, an eminently fair point of view on its surface. The reality for many artists has been much different.

In 2005, do artists really need the labels? In an era of instant music downloads, affordable sound editing software, inexpensive web hosting, and a vast network of message boards, blogs, and fan pages, can’t an artist just go forth and make his or her music available in a way they benefit from primarily?

The Direct Approach

An item about Musicfreedom.com crossed the newswire this morning. Bill Marquez, CEO of search engine Netster, along with *NSync’s J.C. Chasez and music producer Alex Greggs, debuted Musicfreedom.com as a way for independent artists to reach music buyers.

The site will pay 40 cents per song sold to artists, and claims it will pay every two months. Musicfreedom says on its site that it won’t be limited to music; any audio entertainment will be supported. Artists have control of their music on the site and can add or remove it as they wish.

Songs sold on Musicfreedom will be in MP3 format. “This was a very long and hard decision to make, but we decided that would be best if songs were not encoded with DRM as to ensure compatibility with all iPods/Computers/MP3 players,” the site notes in a FAQ.

Bringing The Noise

Musicfreedom currently lists Mr. Greggs and three other columnists as content contributors, adding some extra value to the site. That feature presents a significant challenge. Starting a site is easy; keeping it updated with regular content presents a hurdle that many sites cannot pass. Addicted To Noise used to get by with monthly columns. In 2005, that rate of publication may as well be abandonment.

This is the kind of initiative artists should want to see succeed. Fans definitely want access to the music they enjoy, and there’s no reason a band would not want to benefit more from the music they create.

In an age where t-shirt sales make more money for an independent band than singles do, Musicfreedom and the demonstrated potential of the Internet should be motivation for bands to create more great music.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

The Sell Of Music
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